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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Three Focusing Activities to Engage Students in the First Five Minutes of Class | Faculty Focus

Barbi Honeycutt, owner of FLIP It Consulting in Raleigh, N.C. and an adjunct assistant professor at NC State University summarizes, "In the previous two articles, I shared ideas to address student accountability and student preparation in the flipped classroom."

Her new book is titled
FLIP the First 5 Minutes of Class: 50 Focusing Activities to Engage Your Students.

Based on your feedback and emails, getting students to come to class prepared is an ongoing challenge for many of us! In this article, I’d like to keep the conversation going by zeroing in on the importance of the first five minutes of class.

Photo: Faculty Focus

When I teach workshops about designing the flipped classroom, I always encourage faculty to think carefully about the first five minutes of class. In my lesson plan template, one of the first tasks we discuss when planning in-class time is to prepare what I call a “focusing activity.” A focusing activity is designed to immediately focus students’ attention as soon as they walk in (or log in) to the classroom. When used in conjunction with flipped and active learning classroom models, focusing activities allow you to minimize distractions, maintain momentum between pre-class and in-class activities, and maximize the amount of class time you have to engage students in learning.
Most focusing activities take fewer than five minutes of class time and are highly flexible. Focusing activities may include collaborative activities to connect students, generate discussion, and compare ideas; individual activities where students work on their own by reading, reflecting, or writing; or a brief quiz or some other type of assessment. You can also use a focusing activity to introduce a new idea or to set the stage for what’s to come during class. Finally, focusing activities can be high-tech, low-tech, or no tech.
And, as a bonus, when you use a focusing activity in the first five minutes of class, you will set the expectation that students come to class and start working immediately. When you establish this routine in your class, your students are more likely to do the pre-class work because now they see how their work is used during class...

Focus with drawing. This one takes a low level of prep time.
Prompt your students to draw a process, create a diagram, or illustrate a main point from the course material. A drawing might include creating a mind map of the main points of the course material so you can see how students organize information, a graph of a set of data points collected from a survey, or their interpretation of what’s happening in the story or what a character might be feeling. Here are a few examples:

  • Draw the cycle of how blood flows through the heart.
  • Diagram the bones of the hand.
  • Draw a comic strip illustrating the main character’s journey.
  • Color code the map to show the boundaries between counties.
  • Draw the perfect phone and diagram the features.
Alternatively, you can show an existing illustration or drawing and ask students to relate it to the course material, diagram it, or analyze parts of it.

Source: Faculty Focus